Events for SOC members

We’re delighted to present the 2023/2024 programme of monthly Zoom meetings for all Club members, which are arranged in conjunction with the excellent local meetings organised by branches. To receive the Zoom joining link, you must be an SOC member and be signed up to the Branch News & Events – Talks & Workshops mailing list.


Can’t make it on the night? Don’t worry, a link to the talk recording will be circulated afterwards to members on the mailing list. Unfortunately, sometimes our emails end up in spam/junk folders. If you can’t locate anything from us, please contact or call us on 01875 871 330.


SOC Endowment Fund Research Projects

| Talks | Q&A |

SOC operates two grant schemes; The Birds of Scotland Fund is used to support ornithological publications and special projects and the Endowment Fund provides finance for the field study of Scottish birds. This session is dedicated to learning more about some of the projects which have recently been supported by the SOC:

The effect of Avian Flu (HPAI) on an Orkney Great Skua population, with Helen Aiton

This is the 10th year of the Rousay Skua Study – Helen's talk will give an update on the effect of Avian Flu on the Great Skua in the study site over the past two years and the contrasting productivity of the Arctic Skuas which are at present, unaffected.

A project by Kevin and Mike Sinclair to support and study a colony of Tree Sparrows at a small farm in East Renfrewshire.

Kevin and Mike's project monitored the last recorded Tree Sparrow colony of significance in East Renfrewshire to gain a better understanding of the numbers of birds present and evaluate their breeding success following the erection of 50 nestboxes in the study area. In addition, by colour ringing birds, the project sought to uncover more about the movement of adults and fledged birds both within and outwith the study area.

Island evolution of British wrens, with Michał Jezierski, Helsinki Institute of Life Science, University of Helsinki

The British Isles are home to five subspecies of the Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). But how distinct are these lineages? How easy is it to tell them apart? In this talk, Michal will present the results of his investigation into the five British wrens, and how evolving on islands has shaped their biology.


About your speakers

Helen Aiton, an agricultural zoology graduate, has been a keen ornithologist from childhood and a long time member of the SOC and is the secretary of the SOC Orkney branch. She has undertaken WWT Goose counts for over 40 years together with BTO survey work. Since moving to Orkney, Helen with her husband David have been monitoring Skua populations on a study site in Rousay and they are very grateful for funding from the SOC Endowment Fund for help with ferry fares. Helen and David also worked with BTO Scotland on a recent project to determine where the study site Arctic Skuas migrate to in the winter and their feeding grounds during the breeding seasons using geolocater and data logger technology.

Michał Jezierski is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Life Science, University of Helsinki. Before that, he was a DPhil student in Zoology at the Department of Biology, University of Oxford. His academic work concerns how birds get to occupy the distributions they do, and which adaptations enable them to do so. This has so far focused on understanding the evolution of birds on marine islands.

Mike Sinclair has been interested in wildlife since a young age. In 2016, aged 12, he built and sold 100 nestboxes to raise funds for the SOC, BTO and RSPB. This interest grew over the years and he has now built and erected over 250 nestboxes in parks, local communities and private gardens in the south of Glasgow.  For many of these locations Mike set up nestbox monitoring programmes and trained volunteers. His work in this area was recognised via a Diana Award and the BTO Marsh Award for Young Ornithologist in 2020.  In 2023 he set up a Grounds Maintenance business and continues to work extensively with volunteer groups to support wildlife initiatives in and around Glasgow.

Kevin Sinclair has a long-standing interest in wildlife monitoring and birding.  Since taking early retirement in 2021 he has devoted much of his time to bird ringing with the Clyde Ringing Group and setting up the Flenders Farm Tree Sparrow Project. Kevin is a former sustainability professional and is passionate about promoting and supporting public engagement in local environmental initiatives.  His ability to enjoy birdsong has been severely diminished over the years by his love of heavy rock music and his ability to enjoy sport has, likewise, been adversely affected by following Motherwell FC!